Saturday, February 18, 2006

Hamas set to take over assembly

Hamas set to take over assembly
By Alan Johnston
BBC News, Gaza

The militant movement Hamas is due to take control of the Palestinian parliament on Saturday.

Members will be sworn in and officials appointed at what will be the first session since the election, in which Hamas won a crushing victory.

The party is expected to form a government, but Israel refuses to deal with it unless Hamas recognises their state and lays down its arms.

Hamas refuses to do so, saying it has a right to resist Israeli occupation.

For years, the Hamas leaders lived half in hiding, hunted by the Israelis.

Many of their comrades have been assassinated, but now the survivors are about to step forward and take power.

It may well be, though, that they are leading their people into difficult days.

In the past, Hamas suicide bombers have struck many times in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and elsewhere.

Europe, America and Israel regard Hamas as a terrorist organisation, and they may impose serious financial sanctions if a Hamas-led government refuses to recognise the state of Israel.

In Hamas' eyes, all of Israel is rightfully Palestinian land.

But it has indicated that it might agree to a long-term ceasefire if Israel completely ends its occupation of all the territory it captured in 1967 - the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

Story from BBC NEWS: